top of page

Jude 1-16

Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

(verses 3-4)


There is an urgency for Jude in writing this letter. He tells us so in these opening words. He’d been looking forward to writing a letter that would simply rejoice and revel in the salvation that all believers share. But now, instead, he is calling these believers to enter into a struggle – “to contend for the faith.”

The core of the Greek word translated here as “contend” comes into English as “agonize,” giving us a sense of its full intensity. It was used in athletic games, with the meaning: “to enter a contest,” “to compete with adversaries,” “to fight or struggle with strenuous zeal.” Jude is calling his listeners to engage with focused passion in defending their faith – the “faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.”

Why is this such a pressing need? Because of “certain men”“godless men” – who have distorted the Gospel. They seem to have been teaching an early form of the Gnostic heresy, in which they disregarded the seriousness of sin – they simply presumed that God’s grace gave them freedom to sin as they chose.

Jude will go on to show the disastrous consequence of unrepentant sin, drawing many illustrations from the Old Testament scriptures. “They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire,” he says (verse 7). The implication is: don’t follow these current teachers into unrestrained immorality and license.

The danger is real, for these teachers seem to have infiltrated the church. They are “blemishes at your love feasts,” Jude says, and “shepherds who feed only themselves,” implying that these men hold positions of leadership in the community.

But beyond their sin-filled lifestyle, there is a phrase that seems to go to the core of their error. It puts it very simply. Here it is: they “deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.”

How perilous. To move Jesus from the centre spells disaster. In him all things hold together. He is the truth – if we cut him off, we wander blind. He is the head of the church – we need his voice. His teaching intensifies discipleship, rather than loosening constraint (think of his calling to “be perfect … as your heavenly Father is perfect” Matthew 5:48). His sacrificial death communicates the full consequence of sin, plus securing for us the forgiveness, cleansing, and salvation we desperately need. His faithful obedience to the Father shows us the way we ourselves must walk. His Spirit fills us and leads us.

In pointing out this crucial error of denying Christ, I can’t help but think that Jude must have reflected on his own history. He starts this letter by describing himself as “a brother of James” (verse 1), which is a humble way of saying that he, like James, was in fact the half-brother of Jesus himself.

The Gospels make it clear that Jesus’ own family “did not believe in him” (John 7:5), saying “He is out of his mind” (Mark 3:21). So, Jude had personally known the reality of denying “Jesus Christ (as) our only Sovereign and Lord.” What eventually brought him and the rest of his family to faith, we don’t know. But I am sure he never forgot the crucial importance of fully embracing Jesus as his own Sovereign and Lord.

So, hold fast to “the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” Be on guard against every false direction. Contend for the truth. And above all, live life – day by day by day – affirming with the whole of your being that “Jesus Christ (is) our only Sovereign and Lord.”


Christ Jesus, you are my Sovereign and my Lord. I hold to the truth of your Gospel. I stand in your grace, knowing I am washed clean, choosing to put aside sin. All for your glory. Amen.



Today, how can you tangibly affirm Christ as your Sovereign and Lord? Is there a task to accomplish, a behaviour to change, an attitude to adopt, a prayer to ignite, a sacrifice to be made?


Photo by Robert Nyman on Unsplash

8 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page